The island of Sardinia only feels partially native to Italy. For one, its most planted red grape is Cannonau, or Grenache, as we know it. Some sources believe the grape variety made its way here when Spanish colonizers moved in during the 14th century, while others think it originated here. The mixing pot of influences is so interesting; then, add in Giovanni Montisci and his craftsmanship.

Barrosu is Montisci's flagship Cannonau (the term is local slang for someone brash). This wine is a robust 14.5% alcohol but has an impressive integration of fruit and tannins. Montisci is at the heart of the island where the terrain is mountainous. The climate is arid and hot, resulting in powerful fruit and tannin comparable to Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Priorat. The high elevation and cold nights make for slow, steady ripening and plenty of acidity.

Formerly a mechanic, Montisci made a career pivot after his wife inherited two hectares of old-vine Cannonau and Moscato. The vineyards had been abandoned, and Montisci took it upon himself to revive them using organic farming practices. He did that for 15 years, learning the craft of winemaking and selling the fruit before bottling wine under his name in 2004. Montisci is an ambassador for the region, though I believe he has what it takes to become a benchmark.

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